When I order a new Elvis CD on Sony’s Follow That Dream Records collectors label, I usually pick up one of their older releases as well. This month’s release was an upgraded Classic Albums edition of 1972′s Elvis Now. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out Thomas’ great review of Elvis Now over on Elvis Today.
My backfill purchase this time to go along with Elvis Now was a 2007 entry in FTD’s Classic Album series, 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong: Elvis’ Gold Records – Volume 2. RCA released the original LP album version in December 1959, near the end of Elvis’ stint in the US Army. The original consisted of the following songs:
I Need Your Love Tonight (1958)
Wear My Ring Around Your Neck (1958)
My Wish Came True (1957)
I Got Stung (1958)
One Night (1957)
A Big Hunk O’ Love (1958)
I Beg Of You (1957)
A Fool Such As I (1958)
Doncha’ Think It’s Time (1958)
I’ve actually never bought this specific album in any form until now. When I bought The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Complete 50s Masters set in 1993, I assumed it contained all of the tracks from this album.
Turns out, I was wrong. When I researched the albums for my recent marathon of Elvis songs released during his lifetime, I found that RCA released two slightly different versions of “Doncha’ Think It’s Time” back then.
The first version was the actual single (a splice of takes 47, 40, and 48), and it’s the one I had on The Complete 50s Masters. For whatever reason, they released a second version (a splice of takes 40 and 39) on the 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong album. The second version was the one I was missing.
I don’t try to keep up with each of the thousands of song variations released since Elvis’ death – I pick and choose on those – but I do feel it is important to have all of the ones released while he was alive. I still have variants of four other songs to track down, including one on an FTD release that is no longer available (I waited too long to backfill that one).
The original 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong album is a strong follow-up to 1958′s Elvis’ Golden Records. It contains several classic performances, including “One Night,” one of the best recordings of his career. Other highlights include “Don’t,” “A Big Hunk O’ Love,” and “A Fool Such As I.” The only weak spots are “My Wish Came True” (which needs a Jordanaires & Millie Kirkham mute button) and the lightweight “I Got Stung.”
The FTD edition of 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong contains 88 tracks on two CDs. Compared to other Classic Albums releases I’ve bought, I have to say that I love the way FTD presents the outtakes on this release.
Instead of in the somewhat random fashion of other releases, FTD instead presents each one chronologically in order of recording. Each take, even false starts, gets its own track. That means you get to hear the same song several times in a row, which to me is the entire point of this kind of collectors label release.
Okay, so it’s not always a good thing. In the case of “I Got Stung,” you get to hear it 23 times in a row, which is about 22 times too many. For most songs, though, this is usually a great way to hear how Elvis and the band worked until it was just right. To be fair, even “I Got Stung” is better on the last take.
Unfortunately, they were apparently a lot faster to turn off the tape when recording Elvis in the 1950s versus the 1960s and 1970s. When a take is blown, someone usually cuts the tape quickly, so missing for the most part is a lot of the in between song banter that makes this kind of release so much fun.
Incidentally, most of the outtakes presented here are from Elvis’ June 1958 session in Nashville, which took place only three months after his induction in the Army. The weekend session was the only time he formally recorded while in the service.
FTD adds “Ain’t That Loving You, Baby” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart” to the album for this release. “Ain’t That Loving You, Baby” gets 11 takes, including some versions at superspeed.
Beyond the masters, the best tracks for me on this album were actually the three that made up the 1958 Elvis Sails Extended Play album. This was a “talking album only” that consisted of three interviews conducted with Elvis while he was in the Army, shortly before leaving for Germany. It reached #2 on the EP charts.
It contains one of my all-time favorite Elvis quotes. A reporter asks the probing, in-depth question of, “Elvis, what’s your idea of the ideal girl?”
Elvis doesn’t miss a beat, answering, “Female, sir.” The press members erupt in laughter.
In a more serious segment, Elvis talks about his mother, who had passed away only weeks before:
My mother, I suppose since I was an only child that we might have been a little closer [...] and Mother was always right with me all my life. And it wasn’t only like losing a mother, it was like losing a friend, a companion, someone to talk to. I could wake her up any hour of the night, and if I was worried or troubled about something, she’d get up and try to help me.”
Though the outtakes are occasionally interesting, it was Elvis Sails and the LP variant of “Doncha’ Think It’s Time” that made this release worthwhile for me.
So, were 50,000,000 Elvis fans wrong? Of course not. This is a great album, whether you bought it in 1959, 2007, 2010, or any other year.